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Olympics and the Threat of Terrorism

Olympics and the Threat of Terrorism

Joint Statement of Robert M. Blitzer, Chief, Domestic Terrorism/Counter Terrorism Planning Section, National Security Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and J. Gilmore Childers, Special Counsel for the Olympics Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Washington D.C., June 11, 1996, 10:00AM.

Chairman Hatch, Senior Biden, and Members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here this morning to discuss with you the very important issue of security for the Olympic Games. With only 38 days to go before the Games begin, and with the tragedies of the of the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings still fresh in our minds, as well as the knowledge of numerous other terrorist events which have taken place around the world over the past several years, I want to first and foremost convey to the Committee that the Department of Justice, working with the Department of Defense, and all other relevant U.S. government agencies, has made security for the upcoming Olympics a priority of the highest order. Together with the FBI's Atlanta's Field Division, Federal, State and local law enforcement personnel and resources have been mobilized over the past four years to ensure that we are prepared to meet the special security challenges these Olympic Games will present.

The upcoming Olympic Games in Atlanta will encompass over 36 competition venues, nine Olympic venues, and 38 training sites. More the 16,000 athletes and officials from 200 countries will participate in what will be the largest peacetime event since the end of World War II. Additionally, numerous Heads of States, members of royal families, and Chief Executive Officers of Many "Fortune 500" companies will be in Atlanta during the Games.

In addition to the Games themselves, I am sure that you are aware that the 1996 Summer Olympic Games is sponsoring a collateral special event, the 1996 Olympic Torch Run. The Torch Run commenced in Los Angeles on April 27, 1996, and will end at Opening Ceremonies of the XXVI Olympiad in Atlanta on July 19, 1996. The FBI is responsible for coordinating intelligence for the Torch Run which covers 42 states and involves 43 FBI field divisions

The FBI has assigned approximately 900 personnel to our Olympic effort in Atlanta for the duration of the Games. In addition to those Olympic Venues within the territory of the Atlanta Field Office, other Olympic venues exist. These cities will host practice site and related events for the Games with FBI field offices in these cities assisting with security.

Furthermore, the Department has committed approximately 450 additional law enforcement personnel to complement the FBI. These highly trained law enforcement officers will assist the FBI with its mission and together with their colleagues from other federal agencies, will form a formidable force in Atlanta.

Operating within this complex mix of private, local, state, and federal organization, the FBI has been thoroughly involved in almost all coordinating aspects of the planning effort, including every key security planning subcommittee. Now, with the Olympic Torch Relay in progress, the Olympic Athlete's Village opening on July 6th, and the Olympic Gamed commencing with the Opening Ceremony on July 19, the security effort is transitioning from planning to implementation and operations.

These operations are centered in three (3) areas: Intelligence; Tactical-Investigative; and Explosive Devices Detection and Response.

The FBI will operate the Olympic Intelligence Center, a multi-agency endeavor located in the Atlanta Field Office and managed by the FBI. Its mission is to obtain information regarding anything that could impact the Games and to provide that information and threat analysis to agencies with physical security investigative responsibilities.

The FBI will manage tactical ad investigative assets around-the-clock through its Atlanta Field Office Operations Center. All staged FBI incident response personnel, such as Emergency Response Teams, Evidence Response Teams and Crisis Incident Response Group, will be directed from the Operation Center. Should there be a situation or incident in which the FBI's crisis management role is activated, an FBI Command Center adjacent to the Operation Center will be immediately staffed. It is designed to address a particular problem, accommodating participation by other agencies, while allowing the Operation Center to continue to address the full spectrum of Olympic security issues. Additionally, the FBI will manage, with ATF and the Defense Department, the Olympic Bomb Management Center, which is a multi-agency operation with a mission to assist in the sanitization of Olympic venues, address suspicious packages, and disarm devices if necessary.

On hand will also be the FBI's highly trained tactical assets, including the Hostage Rescue Team and elements of our Crisis Incident Response Group.

All of the specialties are required because the Olympics, and other major events, pose extraordinary and dynamic challenges for federal, state and local governments, as well as for sponsoring organizations. Private sponsors alone simply cannot meet the security planning and prevention requirement of an event of this magnitude. In fact, no single element, law enforcement or otherwise, within the U.S. government can meet the requirements for safety and security planning for events such as the Olympics, given the current world situation.

The public safety requirement for events of this magnitude require the resources of the federal government and the talents and expertise of its various agencies. Expertise in intelligence gathering, terrorist threats, chemical and biological warfare, will all be required if we are to provide for the public safety at the Summer Olympics.

In fact, there is hardly a government agency in public safety law enforcement that is not somehow involved in ensuring that the 1996 Olympic Games are safe and secure. The Public Health Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Environmental Protection Agency are key to the consequence management planning for any terrorist incident. The FBI, DEA, ATF, US Secret Service, U.S. Customs Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard are handling Federal law enforcement responsibilities.

The Department of Defense is also critical to the success of the Games as it provides extraordinary support to many of these Federal agencies involved in counter terrorism planning. For example, they directly support the Public Health Service emergency medical teams used in the chemical/biological arena. Defense provides much of the aviation and emergency reaction support to the FBI and its specialized units such as the Hostage Rescue Team. DOD is engaged in air and ground traffic management which is a public safety issue much larger than a corporate entity could have responsibility for in such events. Defense personnel will help secure the perimeter of the venues while ensuring that packages, vehicles and individuals are properly screened prior to entering any Olympic site. Furthermore, professional within the Defense Department will provide tactical assistance in the Command Center, a critical element of the security operation. Additionally, the Department of Defense provides a trained and tested cade of professionals, ready to tackle any task placed before them. Furthermore, the mere presence of military personnel acts as a deterrent to terrorists and others who might want to disrupt the Games.

Thank you for your interest in this issue. I am certain, that with your continued support, that America's

Games will be the most spectacular Olympics ever.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).